What is employee insubordination and what steps can I take as an employer?

Friday, 21st July 2023

Insubordination is defined as employee’s deliberate refusal or failure to follow reasonable instructions from their employer. These instructions are likely to be a core part of their job role. It is considered a breach of the employee’s duty to not follow the legitimate directions of their employer.

If the insubordination is serious, it may be viewed as misconduct. Insubordination can cause time and productivity to be lost for a company as well as affecting overall morale in teams and the wider company. Insubordination can take several forms, it can include a combination of behaviours and actions, including but not limited to:

  • Failure to follow legitimate instructions
  • Open defiance or disrespectful behaviour
  • Ignoring company policies
  • Refusing to work with another employee
  • Not following safety procedures
  • Using work equipment for personal use without permission
  • Making false statement, engaging in gossip that could cause harm to another employee or the company.

If you encounter actions like this from a member of staff and think they maybe insubordinate, there are general steps that can be taken. It is, however, important to get the advice of a solicitor who can look at the specific detail in relation to the circumstances and your company’s policies and contracts.

It is likely that the following steps would be taken to work out the next steps:

  1. In the first instance it will be important to review your company policies and the relevant employment contract, this should be done to see if it specifically addresses insubordination or related issues and if it has been defined.
  2. It is key to document instances of insubordination – this helps show patterns of behaviour and consistency from the employer perspective.
  3. Insubordination will need to be discussed with the employee via a scheduled meeting to discuss the insubordinate behaviour.  We can advise you how to conduct this meeting and explore and document instances of behaviour and explanation for them.
  4. If the insubordination involves a dispute or conflicting accounts, you may need to investigate this further and gather facts. This may involve interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents, or collecting additional information. It is important that you follow specific approaches when doing this.

It is of utmost importance that the above steps are carried out correctly by the employer and we can provide expert guidance and support. This will be especially important if you then need to go on to take disciplinary action which we can assist with, providing you with step-by-step advice. If you think you need advice regarding an insubordinate employee, call our expert employment law solicitors to see how we can help on 0330 107 5454.

Orginal source: What Is Employee Insubordination And What Steps Can I Take As An Employer? – Stephensons Solicitors LLP